sword in the stone 7 - BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY Like British...

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BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY: Like British scholars C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien , Terence Hanbury White turned his concern for the events leading to World War II into the unexpected--a highly original children's book, The Sword in the Stone (1938). Unlike them White wrote his first Arthurian novel in the isolation of a gamekeeper's cottage at Stowe Ridings after resigning as the popular head of the English department of the Stowe School. At Stowe Ridings he deliberately lived a reclusive life, removing himself from the temptation of his strong pederastic feelings, devoting all of his energy to the voracious reading of books and the arduous accomplishment of ordinary skills such as milking and plowing, and exotic ones such as falconry. He reserved his affection solely for Brownie, his red setter. Vehemently opposed to war, he waffled between active participation and escape to Ireland. White's children's novel about Arthur's youth and Merlyn's education of the boy who would become King Arthur was greatly revised in The Once and Future King (1958), which in turn became the basis for the musical Camelot (1960) and the subsequent film (1965), cultural icons of the 1960s. By that stage White's children's story of Wart had been lost in the famous adult romance of the Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot triangle. His early interest in Sir Thomas Malory 's Morte d'Arthur (1485) and experience as a tutor and teacher led White to invent the comic and didactic details of Wart's education and to give Merlyn a more active role. As a tutor he had earned his way through Queen's College, Cambridge; he was briefly a teacher at Saint David's preparatory school in southern England (1930-1932) and finally the demanding but charismatic head of the English department (1932-1936) at Stowe School on that famous English estate. Royalties from The Once and Future King made White a wealthy man, able to indulge his whims and vagaries and to break his self-imposed isolation. He befriended celebrities such as Julie Andrews and her husband Tony Walton and played host to groups of deaf and blind persons during the summer at his home on the Channel Island of Alderney. The Sword in the Stone will probably remain his best-known story, partially through retellings by others. He wrote three other children's books: Mistress Masham's Repose (1946), The Goshawk (1951), and The Master: An Adventure Story (1957). Some critics of children's literature would include all of the Arthurian novels that White wrote. But the other Arthurian works are unsuitable either by their tone or subject matter, especially the revised versions of the 1958 tetralogy. Humphrey Carpenter --who in Twentieth-Century Writers for Children (1989) adds The Witch in the Wood (1939), The Ill-Made Knight (1940), The Once and Future King (1958), and The Book of Merlyn (1977) to the list--concedes that "Many of T. H. White's books have been read by children, but his claim to be a children's writer rests chiefly on The Sword in the Stone and Mistress Masham's Repose ." In a letter of 14 January 1938 to his former Cambridge tutor L. J. Potts, White called The Sword in the Stone
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